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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 08-06-09, 05:14 PM   #1
SeanKimStyle
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Short stem and Long Stem, Advantage disadvantage?

Of course purpose of having shorter stem or longer stem is for the correct bike fit.

But does having a shorter stem or longer make any difference in riding performance other than bike fit?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Old 08-06-09, 06:27 PM   #2
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No difference.
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Old 08-06-09, 06:43 PM   #3
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Unlike mountain bikes, stems on road bikes seem to have less noticeable affect on handling.
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Old 08-06-09, 06:54 PM   #4
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I've gone from 120mm to 90mm and I didn't really notice any difference ih bike handling. I was trying to find a level of comfort, which is what I thought stem length was all about.

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Old 08-06-09, 06:56 PM   #5
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I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.

Now, tell me why road sprinters like Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?
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Old 08-06-09, 07:01 PM   #6
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what about flipping the stem, as I've read about on here. What's that all about? What exactly does that accomplish?

(not meaning to hijack, I can start a new thread if necessary)

RD
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Old 08-06-09, 07:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.

Now, tell me why road sprinters like Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?
I agree - shorter stem makes more twitchy, especially on fast decents.
Besides, all the best riders in my area ride 120 - 130 stems. They just look cooler
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Old 08-06-09, 07:38 PM   #8
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what about flipping the stem, as I've read about on here. What's that all about? What exactly does that accomplish?

(not meaning to hijack, I can start a new thread if necessary)

RD
Changes the bar height and to a small extent, bar reach. For sizing purposes.
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Old 08-06-09, 07:47 PM   #9
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How do I go about choosing a longer stem if I want to get a more aggressive fit? Should I just go 10mm longer?
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Old 08-06-09, 07:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
I'm gonna disagree. I can feel a good difference in handling on short vs. long. Stems shorter than 90mm, IMO, make the handling twitchy in a very unpleasant way. I prefer around a 120mm, and try to size my bikes according to TT as such.
this
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Old 08-06-09, 07:59 PM   #11
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Cavendish nearly always have 120-130mm stems?
most pros use long stems because the headtubes on their bikes are too tall, so they use a long stem to give them the proper position, or they have gone down a size to get a proper headtube size and they need a longer stem to compensate
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Old 08-06-09, 08:04 PM   #12
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I've found the length of the stem does affect handling, the shorter being a bit more lively than a longer one. More importantly I prefer a longer stem for out of the saddle efforts as I can lean forward more.
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Old 08-06-09, 08:19 PM   #13
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No difference.
not this
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Old 08-06-09, 08:50 PM   #14
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How do I go about choosing a longer stem if I want to get a more aggressive fit? Should I just go 10mm longer?
Typically, you would go 20mm (2 cm) longer/shorter. 10mm (1cm) won't make that much of a different. However, be careful as you can affect your reach and therefore comfort on the bike. If your stem is currently "un-flipped", i.e. the angle of the stem (if your stem has a rise to it) is pointing up, then "flipping" it, or turning it upside down so that the angle points down, might give you the more aggressive posture you want without affecting your reach. If you stem has 0 degrees of rise, then flipping it won't make a difference.

I just "un-flipped" my stem because I felt the reach was long and I wanted a more upright position. My 110mm stem only has a 6 degree rise so the difference was not much different.
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Old 08-06-09, 11:22 PM   #15
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not this
Consistently claimed, but never claimed convincingly.

It's really hard to find a stem shorter than 80mm to fit most road bars, and even 80mm is pretty hard to find. Handling should be fine. Folks raced with much shorter stems back in the day. No problems were had.
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Old 08-07-09, 05:55 AM   #16
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If you want to try a different stem:

1. Have a good relationship with a good LBS in the area. This applies for pretty much anyone, in general, so you always have a place to go.

I'd term "Good relationship" as you are friendly, buy stuff semi-regularly (focus on smaller high margin things, not looking at blow out bikes where the shop is just trying to recoup costs), drop in every now and then, and if they have group rides, you go on a couple of them.

2. Once you have a good relationship with the shop, ask about stems. If they're really nice they may let you look at their (non-priced) catalog, or give you a run down on what they can get.

3. Ask to borrow 3-4-5 or more stems, lengths varying by 1-3 cm from your current stem, different angles, even different materials. Any semi-established shop will have a number of take-off stems. This is where you'll start learning of clamp diameters and stem angles. Let the LBS show you - it's easy to see what a 73 vs 80 vs 90 deg stem is when you're holding them in your hands.

4. Choose a size/angle and order/buy the stem you want from the LBS.

5. If you decide to repeat the process, now you know what you need to do. Buy the stem where ever.

The last stem I bought was for the tandem. I knew exactly what size/angle I wanted but not the brand/material/etc, decided I wanted to use this opportunity to help build my relationship with the local shop, and paid full retail on the stem (at my insistence). I believe that the shop made $60 on me, which I thought was reasonable, minus shipping, the time it took to talk about stems (not much), the time they let me tap away at their computer to find the stem (probably 15 minutes), and the resulting time of me looking at other things (another 15-30 minutes). I figure $65/hour is about what they need/should make on me.

cdr
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Old 08-07-09, 06:54 AM   #17
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Consistently claimed, but never claimed convincingly.
Well, I've convinced myself, anyway, and I've experimented a lot with stem length. That said, stem length doesn't always affect handling. I have one bike where I really can't tell any handling difference with different length stems, whereas my Serotta handles like a pig in crosswinds with a 90mm stem but is noticeably better with 100mm.

Last edited by scirocco; 08-07-09 at 07:28 AM.
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